If you plan on traveling by plane and want to bring your bike with you then preparation is required in order to have a stress free voyage. Traveling with your bike can be challenging because of carrier rules, packaging and potential damages caused in transit. So in order to make informed decisions you need to research your options and ask yourself some very important questions.
Do your home work and determine your options:
- In order to check you bike on the plane find out what your airline will charge and how the bike needs to be packaged before booking your tickets. You can call their customer service center or visiting their website for detailed information. If possible bring written documentation detailing proof of their pricing model to the check in counter because not all airline attendants are aware of bike charges and policies.
- Some airlines have a flat fee of $50 to $100 for transporting a bike one way.
- Other airlines weigh your luggage and if your total weight exceeds their limit you are charged for the extra weight.
- Several airlines will not let you bring the bike on the plane unless it is in a hard box.
- Pack your bike yourself and find out the cost of shipping your bike via UPS, FedEx and the postal service. This might be a better option and you will not have to carry your bike through the airport.
- If you do not want to pack your bike you can ask your local bike shop if they could box up your bike and send it to a shop or hotel at your destination. The bike shop might give you a good rate and the other bike shop can put it back together for you. Keep in mind that the bike could arrive late so ship it well in advance.
- If you are going on a short trip and are only going to ride for 1-3 days you might want to consider renting a bike at your destination. You will not need to worry about transportation loss and or damage. If you take this option call the bike shop at the destination to determine what type and size bikes they offer for rent. You can bring your seat pedals and accessories to make it feel like your own.
- Another option is to look on a bike classifieds website for used bicycles for sale. You could purchase a used bike at your destination or ask the owner if they would rent it to you for the duration of your stay. You might find a great deal.
How to package your bike to be transported by plane and/or mail:
- You might want to invest in a hard case. Be advised that hard cases are heavy and if the airline charges by the pound this method could be very expensive. If you have a relationship with your local bike shop they may be willing to let you borrow their case. However you obtain your bike case take note of the case dimensions because the airline might have size restrictions. Some of my friends find soft cases inefficient because they are difficult to carry and offer little protection for your bike. Remember you do not want to arrive at your destination with a broken bike.
- Instead of investing in a bike case another option is to ask your local bike shop if they have any cardboard bike boxes. You can dismantle your bike, wrap it in bubble tape, clothing or foam, and then box it. These boxes are cheap/free, hard and lighter then a travel case. Some riders have stated that cardboard boxing is the most efficient way to package your bike for travel.
- If you box up your bike put the heavier mountain bike parts in your luggage to keep the weight down. This will make it easier to carry your bike in the airport and will prevent the airline associates from dropping your heavy boxed bike during transportation. Be advised that the travel inspectors can open you boxed bike before it is loaded on the plane. If they can not see inside by opening the top cover of the box they might cut your box open.
What ever method you choose good luck and have fun.